Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel resigned Friday, clearing the way for the governor’s choice to step in.
Gov. Chris Christie nominated First Assistant Prosecutor Jim McClain earlier this month to replace Housel, whose five-year term expired this week. But, with a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee unlikely until after the summer break, Housel resigned this week in a letter to the governor.
“I knew when I took the job there was a chance I would only do one term, and I was fine with it,” Housel said Friday. “I’m extremely happy that Jim got it. I know him well enough to know the office will move in a positive and apolitical direction.”
Housel, a Democrat appointed in 2007 by then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine, has previously insisted he never handled the office from a political point of view. He said his clients were the residents of Atlantic County, and he was there to serve them.
“I have endeavored to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens, and this office has made excellent efforts to adopt new technologies and strategies in order to do so,” he said. “We have gone far beyond our core function, which is the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters in order to respond to emergencies of the streets of several local cities.”
That includes a presence in Atlantic City and Pleasantville, the county’s two most crime-plagued municipalities. His office’s Shooting Response Team also responds any time a gun is fired in the county.
“I’m a lawyer; I give my all to my clients,” he said. “That’s what we do. We’re professional.”
But now, Housel said, “it’s time to move on.”
“For at least the time being, I am returning to private practice and looking forward to the next phase in my career,” he said.
McClain could not be reached for comment Friday evening, after the announcement became public.
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